LatinaLista — When Guadalupe “Lupe” Valdez won the election for sheriff of Dallas County, Texas in 2004, it was a milestone on several fronts.
It wasn’t enough that Lupe was a Latina (a daughter of migrant farmworkers from Mexico), a woman and a lesbian. What sent her into the history books was that she was all three of these things AND a Democrat who won in a traditional Republican precinct by beating out her opponent with 51% of the vote.
Though Lupe’s story is inspirational, her’s is not the only tale of a Texas Chicana beating the odds to blaze a new political trail. In fact, Lupe joins a distinguished list of such Lone Star Chicanas, whose stories before now were only known to fellow Tejanas/os.
Believing that the nation should know these stories, Dr. Jose Angel Gutierrez, himself a legend in fighting for Texas Chicanos’ civil rights, University of Texas-Austin doctoral student, Sonia Noyola and Michelle Melendez of the University of New Mexico have compiled the stories of Lupe and 24 other Chicanas in the book, “Chicanas in Charge: Texas Women in the Public Arena.”
Stories such as those of Anita N. Martinez, not only the first Latina elected to the Dallas City Council but the first Latina in the nation to be elected to a city council of a major city; Elvira Reyna, the first Hispanic woman elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican and Gloria de Leon, co-founder of the National Hispanic Institute and recruiter and trainer of countless young Latino leaders across the country are but a few of the examples that the authors have found to showcase women who had to overcome personal challenges to achieve their goals.
Chicanas in Charge brings these stories and others into the public domain so more Latinas can take heart in the journeys of these brave women and follow their own dreams of creating legacies in public service.